His work in the First Creek, Tempus Two, Briar Ridge and Pepper Tree brands stamped Charles Sturt University Wagga graduate Scott Comyns as a rising star of winemaking.
In 2010, he was a finalist in the Australia-wide Wine Society Young Winemaker of the Year Award and also that year won the Hunter's Alasdair Sutherland Scholarship. In 2014, he was a prestigious Len Evans Wine Tutorials scholar.
Today, at 39, he is fulfilling his destiny with his own innovative and diverse Comyns and Co boutique brand. With the backing of friends and family, the venture was set up in 2016 after Scott took redundancy from the post of Pepper Tree chief winemaker in a Davis Wine group restructure.
He joined up as a 2016 vintage winemaker with Andrew Thomas, who generously allowed Scott to make his wines in the Thomas winery. That produced an eight-wine, 1200 dozen cases Comyns debut portfolio from fruit bought from small premium grape growers.
The 2019 vintage production reached 2500 cases and his skills were displayed in this year's Hunter Valley Boutique Winemakers' Show at Maitland.
The $60 Comyns and Co 2018 Reserve Shiraz won the best 2018 shiraz trophy and the $55 2018 Reserve Shiraz-Pinot Noir took gold in the 2018 red blend class. Scott's current releases feature Hunter classic semillion, shiraz and chardonnay varieties, but also more offbeat offerings as pinot noir-shiraz and shiraz-tempranillo-viognier red blends. The whites also include an oak barrel-fermented viognier, a fiano and a riesling crafted from Pokolbin Estate's acclaimed sole Hunter planting of the variety.
Grapes from the Pokolbin Estate Shed Block made the trophy-winning 2018 Reserve Shiraz, reviewed below.
After initially only selling online, a year ago Scott and his wife Missy set up a Broke Road, Pokolbin, Peppers Creek Centre cellar door, which "good vibes manager" Missy runs. Wines are there and on comynsandco.com.au. A further plus is getting their own winery by leasing the Deaseys Road, Pokolbin, Rothvale facility, in which Scott made his 2019 vintage.
He revels in working for himself and is proud of what has been achieved in the past three years and grateful for the support of family, friends and growers who provide his fruit. And there's special gratitude to Andrew Thomas, in whose winery Scott made the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Comyns and Co wines.
"It has been wonderful working with Thommo. He's been a great mentor in my winemaking and on the business side of our operation," Scott says.
CRISP CASUARINA WHITE
MADE from the Hermitage Road, Pokolbin, Casuarina vineyard grapes, the Comyns and Co 2019 Single-Vineyard Semillon is straw-hued and features honeysuckle scents, crisp ruby grapefruit front-palate flavour and middle palate nashi pear, apple peel and lemon butter and toast characters. Flinty acid refreshes at the finish.
PRICE: $28. DRINK WITH: Prawn and whitebait fritters.
AGEING: Five years.
RATING: 4.5 stars
THIS trophy-winning Comyns and Co 2019 Reserve Shiraz from Pokolbin Estate fruit has 13.8 per cent alcohol and is deep purple in the glass and bramble jelly-scented. The front palate displays intense blackcurrant flavour, the middle palate has Satsuma plum, peppermint chocolate, spice and savoury oak characters and the finish dusty tannins.
DRINK WITH: Duck a l'orange.
AGEING: 12 years.
RATING: 5 stars
FROM grapes grown on Campbell Domain vineyard in Hermitage Rd, Pokolbin, the Comyns and Co 2018 Reserve Chardonnay is green-tinted light gold and has tropical fruit salad aromas and ripe white peach front-palate flavour. The middle palate shows fig, melon, oatmeal and vanillin oak and the finish brings in slatey acid.
DRINK WITH: Goat's cheese and leek tart.
AGEING: Eight years.
RATING: 4.5 stars